Downsizing Tips For Seniors
It can be emotional and overwhelming for seniors to make the decision to downsize and move into an assisted living facility, condo or other smaller unit. Many of them have spent their whole adult lives in their home, got married there, had children there and created many happy memories. The decision to downsize may be a practical one, but it’s not always an easy one.
It’s a big adjustment to make, especially when they are forced to do so due to mobility, health or financial issues. Hiring a professional mover skilled in this type of move is important, as they can take an objective approach to the process that can take the sting out of any relocation. Whether moving across town or over a long distance, here are some tips for seniors and their families who are facing a difficult downsizing right now.
How to Help: Seniors and Caregivers
Here are some tips on how to handle a move of this magnitude, whether you’re the one moving or you’re an adult child helping your aging parents with the transition.
- First, understand how hard this move is for them. The home they are leaving is a symbol of many years of their lives. They are being asked to not only give that up but to adjust to the reality of losing some independence. A little empathy and encouragement can go a long way during this time. It will minimize stress and ensure a smooth transition. Don’t argue with siblings in front of your parents over who will take what. This isn’t a time for petty arguments; rather, it’s a time for celebrating new beginnings and being a supportive team.
- Be gentle. As you help them de-clutter their home and prepare for the move, don’t belittle them for hanging on to so much stuff. This could very well be a representation of 50 years of stuff that they hold dear. Be sensitive to their feelings. Many people, especially older generations, tend to be savers. Perhaps your grandmother lived through the Depression and never could get used to just throwing things away. Don’t assume the items have no value and simply throw them out. Go through each item with them and make a decision as a team as to what to get rid of, what to throw away, and what to donate.
- Plan for their needs and their new home. If you are moving into an assisted living facility, take a tour and gain access to the layout of the room. Take measurements of your existing furniture as well as the new space so you can get a good idea of what you can take with you and what has to be left behind. Think about what will serve your needs best in the new place, and try to keep the clutter and extraneous items out.
- Don’t get too sentimental. You may unwittingly make the move harder on your parents by getting overly sentimental about your old trophies, football jersey, prom pictures, and recital outfits. If those items hold emotional value for you, you should offer to take them to your own home for storage. They need to save space in the new place and not all their treasured keepsakes and collectibles can make the trip. If you are experiencing anxiety or grief about the move as the adult child, try to cope with it discreetly on your own – at least until the dust settles and your parents are happy in the new home, suggests Aging Care.
- Give them time to think. Come up with three bins or piles into which you and your parents can categorize belongings: trash/recycle, donate, keep. But don’t force them to make on-the-spot decisions, especially when it comes to the items that may hold sentimental value. Instead, create another pile for “undecided.” That way, they can take their time on their own to decide whether or not to keep it, as long as they promise to make the decision before moving day.
- Talk about the positives. It can be very overwhelming to face a downsizing, but as the caregiver, you can do your part to emphasize the positive aspects of the situation. Focus on the good things they will experience, such as using the community pool and fitness center, being in close proximity of their favorite ice cream place or nearby parks where they can spend a day with their grandchildren.
- Safeguard keepsakes and memorabilia. For those items that are hard to part with, such as photo albums and collectibles, make sure you come up with a plan for storing them. You can’t throw those things away, but you can’t take them with you either. As the adult child, you may offer to display them in your own home. If you don’t have the space, rent a storage unit to place all mementoes or expensive items and furniture that they can’t fit in the new place but that shouldn’t be tossed. Holiday decorations, toolboxes that rarely get used any longer, craft collections…make them feel better about the downsizing by promising to put these items some place safe until they want them again.
- Hire a professional. Sometimes you need an impartial party to take over some of the mundane tasks. Hiring your movers to pack your belongings properly can take a great burden off your shoulders. This way, you don’t have to stress out about how best to pack your belongings; you can get peace of mind knowing it’s done right and in a timely fashion.
In the end, a senior downsize is a tough journey to face. Sure, it’s exciting because it represents a new beginning, but for many, that’s also a terrifying prospect. Let us make at least one aspect of the process easier for you.
Contact Dependable Movers
Are you a senior looking to downsize? Are your parents or other loved ones thinking about moving and you want to help? Dependable Movers is your source for senior moves, whether local or long-distance. Get started with a free quote when you contact us at 415-449-7471.
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